Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A serious question for religious people, on the subject of prophets.

(If you're an atheist, or someone who doesn't take the stories of prophets literally, then please don't answer this. I'd like to hear from people for whom prophets of God are a genuine possibility rather than myth or whatever)

Imagine: It's 2013, and you hear about a man who says he receives messages from God. 
He says he has been chosen personally, by God, to bring God's teachings to everyone else on earth. 
He says that anyone else who makes a similar claim is either lying or mad - that he is the one true prophet of God, and all others are false.

Let's assume that it is possible that he is telling the truth. Let's accept that God sometimes chooses individuals and employs them to spread his word, and that this might happen now.

If you believe that it can't happen now because the last of the prophets has already come and gone, please try to put aside that belief just for the purposes of this thought experiment. Subsititute "messenger of God" for prophet if you like. What we're interested here is people who claim God speaks to them directly.

Would you believe what he says, or would you be sceptical of his claims?

I think it's a fair assumption that you would not believe this man. You might laugh or get angry at him, and say that he himself is lying or mad. Or perhaps you might demand proof that he really does receive messages from God.

What would it take to convince you that this man is telling the truth, that he genuinely is a prophet of God?

And if nothing at all could convince you - why not?


Mammam said...

I would find it very difficult to believe that he/she was a Prophet just on the basis that he/she was claiming to be one. There are too many people with messiah complexes these days, so he/she could easily be suffering from some kind of psychosis.

That's not to say that I would completely dismiss the possibility of another Prophet being sent to us. However, I'd need definitive proof before I could accept that he/she was a messenger from God. Whether this comes in the form of a miracle of some kind (bring peace to the Middle East perhaps?!) or a direct message from God to me - only then would I accept that this was a real Prophet and not a false one.

In this day & age, with a general cynicism about religious matters, it would take a lot for me to believe that another Prophet was amongst us.

Mike Booth said...

Thanks for your response.

Luke said...

I'd seriously consider his claim if there were hundreds of years of prophecy that his well documented life fulfilled. As in, there are messianic prophecies from varied sources that predate the prophets birth by half a millenium, and the manner of their fulfillment was documented in the most historically precise way available at the time.

Reposted from facebook

Juannell Riley said...

Hey, Mike, I love your work. But you need to know this thought experiment has a fatal flaw. I'm an atheist, but I was raised in a religious house and some of my best friends are very religious. The problem with the TE is it asks Christians, and perhaps other groups to do something that they can not do: ignore part of their beliefs. The belief that the last prophet has come and gone, to them, is infallible. If you removed it, it changes their belief system. No true believer, in the ultimate sense (the kind of people I think you really want to answer this), could ever convinced by this man because his claim is invalidated immediately by the notion you asked them to disregard. Do you see what I mean?

Mike Booth said...

Yes, I know what you mean Juannell, and I'd considered that. Will edit to try to find a way round...

mojam said...

I'm a Muslim, meaning I believe the very clearly stated decree that there will be no further Prophets after Muhammad (PBUH).

The question you asked is silly and lacks proper context but I'll answer it anyway. I already believe that God talks to people directly. So if this man speaks the truth, the message he's spreading should clearly prove his claims. What I'm saying is yes, I would be open to hearing what he has to say.

But seriously, sometimes I think atheists spend way more time thinking about religion than religious people.

Mike Booth said...

We certainly spend more time thinking about the absurdities and wondering why you don't see them.

I guess what you're saying is that you'd believe in a messenger from God only if the message he brought happens to coincide what you already think God would say.

alicetherobot said...

"" anyone else who makes a similar claim is either lying or mad - that he is the one true prophet of God, and all others are false. ""

This premise invalidates the speaker's argument in most belief systems I am familiar with.

LesFleurs said...

How nicely said "god employes"

Stephen Galey said...

Even if the message happens to coincide with what you already think God would say, you will not believe that the "prophet" is truly the mouthpiece of the Creator of your Universe.

This will be so whether or not you are an atheist or any form of theist.

Even without an overt claim to uniqueness (one true prophet, others lying or mad), like Cassandra, a genuine prophet will be ignored.

It is not the message you will disbelieve, but the method of its delivery.

LesFleurs said...

If somebody heals you from your illness you will start to pay attention what he says whetever you are atheist or desbeliever or you only believe in rational things

Tamara224 said...

I'm late to this post; I just found your blog. So this may or may not be seen :). Anyway...

I was raised in a Christian tradition (Pentecostal/Charismatic) that believes this: "Let's accept that God sometimes chooses individuals and employs them to spread his word, and that this might happen now." So the idea of prophets and prophecy are not new to me. In fact, many people in that tradition do claim and have claimed to be prophets.

I am, and always have been, skeptical when people claim to speak for God. In fact, I have never been personally convinced that anyone claiming to be a prophet is actually a prophet. To convince me it would take a combination of a good track record - prophesies that have come to pass the way they were prophesied - and a message that I believe aligns with what I know (believe) about God. In other words, it would have to be in a spirit of love, tending to make people's lives better if heeded. Miracles like healing people would also help, but claims of miracles (without evidence) would not.